George Laurence Nelson Art Scholarship 2016 Awarded

George Laurence Nelson Art Scholarship Awarded to Chris Moore

In honor of noted American artist George Laurence Nelson, one of the founders of the Kent Art Association, the Kent Historical Society offers a scholarship of $1,000 to any graduating high school senior or college student from Kent intending to further their education in studio art or art history. 

The 2016 scholarship has been awarded to Christopher Moore, who is a student at Emmanuel College, where he is studying art history and art criticism. As a graduate of Kent Center School and summer intern working with the Society’s Nelson art collection, Moore’s longstanding interest in George Laurence Nelson’s artwork and its reception made him a natural choice for the scholarship. A letter of recommendation from Dr. Anna Knaap, one of his professors at Emmanuel, praised his writing ability and his ability to see deeper into subtle aspects of various works of art. “In his paper on the Crucifixion by the late Gothic painter Duccio, he picked up on more subtle elements, such as the gray toned coloring of Christ’s body that would have appealed to the viewer’s emotions and the varied responses of the figures witnessing the scene.  In these papers, Christopher demonstrated both his writing skills and ability to observe sophisticated and seemingly inconspicuous details in works of art.  In short, he digs deeper than his peers. In sum, Christopher has demonstrated very strong academic, communication, and leadership skills in his first year at Emmanuel College.  He is a fine art historian, a talented writer, and a valuable teacher to his peers.  I therefore strongly recommend him for the George Laurence Nelson Art Scholarship.”

The Kent Historical Society is located at Seven Hearths, which was the home of George Laurence Nelson and has a permanent display of his original art works.  This home, at 4 Studio Hill Road, is a reminder that Kent has a rich and diversified historical past.  In supporting young artistic talent we hope to keep this tradition ongoing.

Seven Hearths Curators’ Tours Offered

Reading an Old House: Tours of Seven Hearths Offered

The challenge – a person acquires an ancient house and wants to really get to know it underneath its modern layers. A title search in the land records will reveal who owned the house when, but that’s about it. What else can a curious homeowner do?

This summer, the Kent Historical Society will illustrate how a careful historical examination of a house can be done. They will be showcasing the long journey they’ve been on since the 1978 inheritance of “Seven Hearths,” a large pre-Revolutionary house in the Flanders Historic District of Kent. Seven Hearths was bequeathed to the Society by its long-time owner, noted New York artist, George Laurence Nelson. He had bought the house in 1919, and invested a great deal of time in “fixing it up.” Fortunately for posterity, Nelson respected the ancient bones of the house and documented his process in an essay entitled New Life for Old Timber. He noted where he had removed walls, converted rooms, and even where he had covered up the names of fur pelts chalked on some beams upstairs.

Kent Historical Society board member Jeffrey Morgan is an expert whose passion and profession is restoring ancient houses. He is currently juggling several aspects of discovery in Seven Hearths. He is carefully removing layers of paint in each room, documenting the age of the paint and the stories that each layer can tell him. With help of fellow board member Roger Gonzales and another old house expert Mark Peterson, Morgan has uncovered the original kitchen floor, found the location of the original attic stair, determined the configuration of the original windows and door on the west wall, and more. Mysterious marks on the old walls upstairs, initials carved in the ancient wood, a curious board by the fireplace in the studio – there are clues throughout the house that can answer questions about previous inhabitants, and even clues that leave us scratching our collective educated heads.

In the meantime, he and Curator Marge Smith have been researching the house’s occupants. Going through census and probate records, reading old diaries, tracking down descendants and talking to town old timers, they are uncovering a trove of information about the lives lived in Seven Hearths Museum. The quest to tell the whole story continues, and you will be a part of it when you take the tour.  Perhaps YOU will have an answer to one of the mysteries!

Tours of Seven Hearths, led by Morgan and Smith, will illustrate this process in depth. The tours will be held at 10AM on July 16 (TOUR FULL), August 20, September 17 (TOUR FULL), and October 15, or by appointment. Please register using the form BELOW.

There is a limit of 10 people per tour.

‘Greetings from Kent’ Showcased Historic Postcards

‘Greetings from Kent’ showcased historic postcards

We thank everyone who visited the Society’s 2016 summer exhibit, “Greetings from Kent: An exhibition of historic postcards” at the town-owned Swift House. The final days of the exhibit coincided with the Kent Sidewalk Festival in early August and the inaugural Kent Arts Night, Aug. 20. There were many people who took advantage of the opportunities to see the show.

Reaction to the exhibit, “Greetings from Kent: An exhibition of historic postcards,” was extremely positive.

Some of the comments shared in the guest book included: “Love the show, history’s the best, interesting photos; Awesome history tour! Thank you for this trip back in time. Grew up in Kent. Great trip down memory lane! What a great exhibit. Super! This was great. Thank You! Great fun and memories. Love it! Nice job!”

Visitors to the special location, the town-owned historic building, the Swift House, discovered enlarged postcards that fill the walls of the building. Those who’ve lived in town for years delighted in seeing the older buildings and remembering who lived and worked in the areas depicted in the postcards. Newcomers to Kent saw the similarities and the differences in the scenes shown that range from Main Street to farming in the outer reaches of town.

The Kent Historical Society celebrated postcards with the exhibit that showcased the local landscape as seen through the lens of postcard photographers.

There is much to be celebrated in what postcards can provide – a look back at the town of Kent over more than 100 years. Many of these images were from postcard kits that were popular for individuals to create their own cards. The Historical Society put this exhibition together through loans from local residents and collectors, as well as its own collection. Trustee Melissa Cherniske was the guest curator.

We are thankful to those who assisted by sharing their personal collection: Susie Rundall, Michael Ward, Susi Williams and Gail Tobin.

We are indebted to our volunteer docents at the summer historic postcard exhibit, “Greetings from Kent” and particularly to Kathi Lee, who served as our volunteer coordinator this summer. We had a small but dedicated group of people who made sure the exhibit was open on Sunday afternoons in June and July and several gave additional time in August for the special exhibit hours. Our special thanks to: Catherine Bachrach, Susan Begnal, Darlene Brady, Jann Carmody Tanner, Melissa Cherniske, Claire Lee, Kathi Lee, Charlotte Lindsey, Linda Palmer, Lynn Mellis Worthington, Rick Levy and Sue Lopardo. The Society could not have offered this exhibit without their volunteer assistance!

Postcard production began in the 1800s, with the first patent being approved in 1861, according to the Smithsonian Institution Archives. Postcards were a popular form of correspondence because they were quick and an easy way to communicate. The Golden Age of Postcards was from 1907 to 1915, according to the Smithsonian.

This special exhibit featured large enlarged images of postcards. There were also a number of reproduction postcards available for purchase.

The show was open weekly on Sundays June through July,  as well as some additional hours in August.



Musicale delights with Spirited Tea

Musicale benefit delights with Spirited Tea

The Society owes many thanks to the supporters and attendees of the Musicale & Spirited Tea Party that was held Sunday, April 17. We are also indebted to everyone who volunteered their time to ensure its success. Proceeds from the event will go toward matching a grant from the Connecticut Trust for HIstoric Preservation for exterior restoration of the Kent Historical Society’s Seven Hearths Museum.

The Kent Community House was dazzling with the elegant decorations, beautiful flowers and scrumptious treats that were created from authentic recipes hailing back to the 1800s.  

The event would not have happened without the dedication of Patsy Stroble, who took on the task of creating an inventive menu, led two baking workshops, and presented a magnificent and plentiful buffet of tea treats, including a three-tier cake iced to perfection by her daughter, Kari Morales.

Frank Delaney was absolutely wonderful, sharing his wit in his clever introduction to our “Spirited Tea Party.” He took us back to look at the history of hosting teas and delighted those attending with several readings, including one from Alice in Wonderland.

Co-chairs Zanne Charity and Bruce Whipple organized and coordinated a spectacular afternoon, taking us back to the 19th Century with entertainment, food, and beverages, of the period, including a “spirited punch”

The Benefit Steering Committee put many creative hours into planning and mounting the event. Those members are: Liddy Baker, Melissa Cherniske, Beth Dooley, Jackie Markham, Wendy Murphy, Julia Samartini, Patsy Stroble, Kate Vick, and Lynn Mellis Worthington.

  • Special thanks to:
    Mr. and Mrs. Henry Kissinger, for helping to underwrite the event
    Davis IGA
    First Congregational Church of Kent
    Harney Tea
    Kent Greenhouse                       
    Kent Wine & Spirit 
    Town of Kent

There were many others who contributed to the success of event.

Those who attended the Baking Workshops helped by creating the splendid array of sweet and savory treats that were served, and others assisted with last minute preparation of edibles on Sunday morning: Lynn Ainsworth, Judy Flynn, Carol Franken, Ellen Horovitz, Adele Johnson, Jody Lampe, Adriana Martinez, Anne Penner, Judy Pinkerton, Allan Priaulx, and Judy Warrick.

We also thank four Marvelwood School students, Maggie Everett, Victoria Sanchez, Isabelle Cameron and Lauren Greiner, who volunteered an entire day to take care of so many little details – everything from setting place settings to delivering tea to the tables.

There were just shy of 100 people in attendance. They enjoyed the punches created with Harney teas, the wide variety of food that was beautifully arranged on the center buffet table, and the opportunity to listen to authentic and historically accurate music from the 19th century performed by the Rosewood Chamber Ensemble.

There were over 50 people who donated to this event, in addition to those who purchased tickets and attended. We’d like to extend our thanks to everyone who contributed.

There were a number of people who pitched in to help in advance, or wherever needed on the day of the event: Darlene Brady, Lawrence Charity, Darrell Cherniske, Mike Everett, Kent Freeman, Adriana Martinez, Toni Presti, Michael Ward, John Worthington, and Jane Zatlin. Also thanks to Lazlo Gyorsok, who took photographs throughout the event.